Mary McCarthy: A Life

Carol Gelderman, Author
Carol Gelderman, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (430p) ISBN 978-0-312-00565-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
This first comprehensive biography of Mary McCarthy surveys the career of a prominent American literary figure of the past 50 years. Having interviewed McCarthy and many of her contemporaries and having had access to previously unavailable correspondence, Gelderman (Henry Ford: The Wayward Capitalist) presents a lively picture of left-wing literary politics in the 1930s (with still another account of the Partisan Review crowd) and the development of McCarthy's long-standing anti-Stalinism. She evaluates the significant influences of Nicola Chiaromonte and Hannah Arendt and is objective but sympathetic about McCarthy's four marriages and various affairs, her protests against the war in Vietnam and her controversy with Lillian Hellman. Also demonstrating the strong relationship between McCarthy's life and writings, Gelderman is particularly successful in balancing McCarthy's competitiveness, sharp tongue andrelentless pen, for which she is well known, with her impulsiveness, generosity, charm, domesticity and friendliness. Photos not seen by PW. (April)
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